Use RMarkdown to generate Latex PDF Conference Posters
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As a graduate student, I found that it is almost a rite of passage to take early research and analysis and generate a conference poster allowing for critical feedback. This is also important for facilitating meeting the people in your field at poster sessions at academic meetings. I have also noticed that while many of my fellow graduate students use R and are getting their feet wet with RMarkdown 😊, we always had to go back to using MS Powerpoint or Keynote or Adobe Illustrator for generating conference posters 😒. Posterdown was created as a proof-of-concept (to myself) that it is possible to make a beautiful poster using open source reproducible code.

From this:

To this:

Please feel free to give me feedback or requests for changes in the issues page. I am currently finishing up my Master's degree so I will have limited time to work on updating this package in the next few months but nevertheless I will do what I can! 😄


You can install and use posterdown from github using the devtools package as seen below.


Instructions if you have never used RMarkdown

  1. Install devtools package

  2. Install posterdown from github repo

  3. Install tinytexLatex libraries:


    NOTE This will take some time to load the LaTex Packages but is the best option (in my opinion) for keeping your Latex library as small as possible. After the first download of these libraries you will not need to do this again. To confirm that Tinytex is properly installed use: tinytex:::is_tinytex() and you should get a value of TRUE in the console.

    NOTE If you have conflicting versions of Latex (i.e. tinytex and MacTex), you could have problems rendering your poster. You may need to uninstall all versions, then start over by installing posterdown and tinytex from scratch.


The posterdown package provides a familiar workflow for those used to working in RMarkdown. This package is currently focused on a single template called posterdown_pdf which is by default a 38in (H) x 45in (W) poster template but does allow for custom sizing, section headers, and colour options.

Using posterdown from RStudio

To use posterdown from RStudio:

  1. Install the latest RStudio.

  2. Install the posterdown package:

  3. Use the File / New File / R Markdown.. / From Template / Posterdown PDF dialog pathway to create a conference poster from the Posterdown PDF template provided.

    New R Markdown

    NOTE If you do not see the Posterdown PDF template in this dialogue box, restart the R session or close and re-open RStudio.


Posterdown uses Latex to generate the PDF poster but more specifically it uses the Memoir Latex class. Memoir was chosen for its flexibility in page sizing as well as its thorough documentation. I am fairly new to the world of Latex, and found this class to have a reasonable amount of customization available, at least for my skill level. If there are any users who think there may be better options for down the road I am more than willing to listen!

YAML Options

YAML header options have been created to provide more freedom in design (i.e. colours, number of columns, and sizing) to fit a wide variety of requirements. Here are the default YAML options found in the .Rmd file:

Option Description
title Poster title, acts as you would expect from RMarkdown. You can add line breaks in your title with \break.
author List of authors which (as of now) only has true support for a single author, however I have provided a hacky way to have many authors until I can find the time to figure out how to implement something like the rticles packages does
affiliation Author affiliations, which just as the author section is currently a hacky version of what I would ultimately like to produce.
font_size Represents the value for \normaltextsize in latex. All other font sizes are adjusted from this baseline. For example, the title in the skeleton document is given the Latex command \Huge, meaning that the title text will be "huge" relative to the font_size chosen. See Here for a useful resource for a better understanding of the Latex text sizing options.
font_family Selects the font family to be used on the poster. In the future I will try to implement multiple font families for various components of the poster (such as different fonts for the title versus the main body text). For now, only standard Latex fonts are available, see here for a list of possible options.
title_bgcol The background colour for the title section of the poster (currently using hex values to define this colour)
poster_bgcol Background colour of the poster's main body section.
title_textcol Colour of the main title text.
header_textcol Colour of the Section Header Text.
cite_col Colour of the citation link elements when using biblatex.
url_col Colour of URL links specifically
link_col Colour of in-document links (example would be referencing a Figure or a Table)
columnline_col Colour of the line which divides each column in the poster
poster_height Height of the final poster output. Units can be: "in", "mm", "cm"
poster_width Width of the final poster output. Units can be: "in", "mm", "cm"
column_numbers Number of columns you wish for the poster to have in the main section of the poster.
bibliography Name of the .bib. file which you are using to source material. As of right now only biblatex is working but I intend to add support of natbib which is my preference.
output For generating posterdown_pdf, in the future other poster designs or templates may be made for this package and thus this option in the YAML will be more flexible. For now this is the only option.

Markdown Customization

As you add content to your RMarkdown file, you will notice that the output pdf will fill in columns from left to right, and from top to bottom within columns. If you have more content for your poster than space is available on the default poster, it will spill onto a second page. If this occurs, you can try adding more columns and decreasing the font size (both in the YAML header) to make it work. Or, of course, edit the content to make it shorter. 😄

Using posterdown outside of RStudio

  1. Install pandoc using the instructions for your platform.

  2. Install the rmarkdown and posterdown packages:

  3. Use the rmarkdown::draft() function to create articles:

    rmarkdown::draft("MyPoster.Rmd", template = "posterdown_pdf", package = "posterdown")

To Do List (When Not Writing my Master's Thesis)

  • Support for changing the size of the poster
  • Support for Natbib
  • Support for nbib from PubMed
  • Support for logo placement in the title bar section of poster
  • Gradient colour options
  • True YAML multi-author/ multi-affiliation support
  • Toggle citation section on/off as per user's choice
  • Make colour options standardized (probably hex colours if possible)
  • Allow users to choose colour options from a palette??
  • Fill/style Section headings if user wishes